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Abstract

1. Recent checklists of the freshwater fish of the British Isles have included 42 native and 13 introduced species. Of the former, however, two are extinct now and eight are threatened in various ways. In addition there are several important stocks of common native species under threat.

2. Protection for British fish exists mainly through legislation and protected sites of various designations. The legislation is inadequate in some respects and very few of the protected sites were actually established for their fish interest. Nevertheless, in Great Britain, 37 species of fish occur in National Nature Reserves. The overall status of fish in Sites of Special Scientific Interest is unknown.

3. The main conservation options for managing freshwater fish resources are habitat restoration, stock transfer to new sites, captive breeding and cryopreservation. The first two of these are regarded as the most useful for the long-term conservation of threatened species. Improved legislation would also help, especially in relation to preventing the import and transfer of potentially harmful species.

4. As well as the implementation of conservation management programmes for rare fish, research and monitoring studies are also needed in order to aid management and maintain a watch on populations of important species. In addition, national fish databases and registers of important stocks are an important background for overall fish conservation and management.